Mercy Isn’t a Way of Life, But the Way of Life, Says Pope…

Posted by Kathleen Naab on 2 June, 2016

_DSC9132-2Being merciful, and especially for a priest, is not about doing isolated acts of mercy. Being merciful, instead, is not only “a way of life”, but “the way of life”. There is no other way of being a priest.

This was part of the reflection that Pope Francis offered in his final meditation this afternoon for the Jubilee of priests and seminarians.

The final meditation was titled “The Good Odor of Christ and the Light of His Mercy,” and he gave it at St. Paul’s Outside the Walls at 4 pm

It followed on the two earlier meditations the Holy Father gave, starting in St. John Lateran at 10 a.m., and then at the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore at noon.

In the lengthy meditation, that was both reflective and practical, the Pontiff considered facets of Jesus’ mercy as seen in the Gospels, particularly in consideration of the woman caught in adultery.

His talk emphasized that each of us, priests as well, are the poor ones in need of mercy.

“In the Church we have, and have always had, our sins and failings. But when it comes to serving the poor by the works of mercy, as a Church we have always followed the promptings of the Spirit. Our saints did this in quite creative and effective ways. Love for the poor has been the sign, the light that draws people to give glory to the Father,” he observed.

The Pope exhorted the priests to learn from their seminary days to have the heart of a father.

“To see needs and to bring immediate relief, and even more, to anticipate those needs: this is the mark of a father’s gaze,” he said. “This priestly gaze – which takes the place of the father in the heart of Mother Church – makes us see people with the eyes of mercy. It has to be learned from seminary on, and it must enrich all our pastoral plans and projects. We desire, and we ask the Lord to give us, a gaze capable of discerning the signs of the times, to know ‘what works of mercy our people need today’ in order to feel and savour the God of history who walks among them.”


Speaking specifically of the sacrament of confession, Pope Francis reminded the priests that they are signs and instruments.

As signs, they have to be effective and attractive, that is, inviting people to the encounter with God through confession.

As well, they mustn’t be self-referential. A sign doesn’t exist for itself, he pointed out, but is meant to lead beyond itself.

Finally, priests have to be available.

“In my country,” the Pope recounted, “there was a great confessor, Father Cullen. He would sit in the confessional and do one of two things: he would repair worn soccer balls for the local kids, or he would thumb through a big Chinese dictionary. He used to say that when people saw him doing such completely useless things like fixing old soccer balls or trying to master Chinese, they would think: ‘I’m going to go up and talk to this priest, since he obviously doesn’t have much to do!’ He was available for what was essential. He got rid of the obstacle of always looking busy and serious.”

The Pope also offered two bits of practical advice to the priests as confessors: never look like a bureaucrat or a judge, and don’t be curious.

Culture of mercy

Pope Francis exhorted the priests to create a “culture of mercy.”

“Once we begin, we sense immediately that the Spirit energizes and sustains these works,” he said. “He does this by using the signs and instruments he wants, even if at times they do not appear to be the most suitable ones.”

Full text of Meditation 3:

About Brother Burrito

A sinner who hopes in God's Mercy, and who cannot stop smiling since realizing that Christ IS the Way , the Truth and the Life. Alleluia!
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20 Responses to Mercy Isn’t a Way of Life, But the Way of Life, Says Pope…

  1. A friend commented: “After all the damage Bergoglio has done to the Church, he’ll need all the mercy he can get when he stands before the judgement seat of God.”


  2. kathleen says:

    All this talk of mercy, but when has the Church ever not shown mercy towards sinners who seek it? Mercy and forgiveness is (was, and always will be) intrinsically interwoven into our Catholic Faith. It’s nothing new.

    In fact it is an absolute myth to make out that there was ever a former time when mercy was withheld from the repentant sinner. The whole of the Gospel is a call to men that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” and to turn from evil when they will be embraced by their Loving MERCIFUL Father in Heaven. When have priests in Confession ever looked like “bureaucrats” or “judges”? This is simply rubbish!
    It has always been the Church’s mission to seek out the Prodigal Son, welcome him home, (i.e., wipe away his sins in the Sacrament of Confession where the priest is the alter Christus) when he will then find himself enveloped in God’s abundant love and mercy.

    But mercy is not a gift to be trodden underfoot by swine.

    Pope Francis appears to forget that mercy – God’s mercy and forgiveness – must always, yes ALWAYS, presuppose REPENTANCE and a firm purpose of amendment! He never mentions this basic truth. Why?
    It is not merciful at all to refuse to “admonish the sinner”; in fact it is positively unmerciful to allow anyone to continue on a path that could lead them eventually to Hell!!

    Besides, if we’re going to carry on talking about nothing but mercy….
    Then where is the Pope’s mercy for the the innocent Catholic mother, Asia Bibi, who languishes in a filthy Pakistani jail awaiting execution for the trumped up charge of insulting Islam? He pointedly ignored her family and their representative at his Wednesday audience recently, and the countless written petitions from Catholics all over the world for him to intervene with the Pakistani Government on her behalf.
    And where is his mercy for the injustices meted out to the once-thriving traditional order of the Friars of the Immaculate that has been all but destroyed thanks to the interfering commissioner appointed by him?
    Does he have any mercy for the millions of priests and laity who have been branded every derogatory name under the sun for the (ahem) crime of holding to orthodox Catholic practices and the holy Tridentine Mass?

    Oh dear, I could go on… but I mustn’t.


  3. Robert says:

    Its called re-branding,


  4. Brother Burrito says:


    This friend who commented, was he God Almighty, or just another Catholic geezer with a grudge against Pope Francis? There seem to be so many of them these days.

    The few priests that I know personally as friends all think PF is “the bee’s knees” (which is UK slang for “THE BUSINESS”). These priests are very holy and orthodox guys. They realise that PF loses a lot in translation, and there are also transcultural issues that will exist as long as the Church sits atop so many cultures, but even so PF is the Pope the world needs at this time, thanks be to God. I totally concur. I had reached the same conclusions myself just by seeing the truth before me.

    Something that one of these priests warned me about was that orthodox is good, but,

    “uber-dox” is bad! (His very words)

    I fear this blog is slipping into “uber-doxy”, and I am saddened by that. If this slippage became complete I would have to leave here, with no apologies.


  5. Brother Burrito says:

    Kathleen, I will address your comment in private.


  6. Brother Burrito says:


    “Re-branding”?? Are you nuts??

    The cynicism of your comment stirs me to Holy anger!!

    In my ire I imagine YOU needing to be re-branded

    (like some wild steer that has mingled with the herd)


    Get to Confession perhaps. You have been off the reservation too long, it seems like that from where I’m standing.

    Sorry for emoting. God bless you.


  7. toadspittle says:

    “Kathleen, I will address your comment in private.”
    Play the game, Bro B – play the game. No gossiping behind our backs. Straight bat and so on, old chap.


  8. toadspittle says:

    “I fear this blog is slipping into “uber-doxy”, and I am saddened by that. “
    Where do you get these fantastic notions, Bro? Not from Toad, I hope?


  9. mmvc says:

    “…another Catholic geezer with a grudge against Pope Francis? There seem to be so many of them these days.”

    No, BB. I really don’t think it’s fair to say that most people who find this pontificate problematic bear ‘a grudge against the pope’. I do however know many who are disturbed, confused, saddened and even angered by some of his actions, utterances and writings. Yet they fervently pray for him, offer their sufferings for him and hold his office as supreme pontiff in the highest regard.


  10. mmvc says:

    “Re-branding”?? Are you nuts??

    Not Robert’s idea, BB, but that of a Catholic priest who thinks Pope Francis is “the bee’s knees”:


  11. Robert says:

    Pope St. Pius X said: “If you want peace in your heart, in your home, in your country, assemble together every night and say the ROSARY”.
    St. Louis de Montfort said: “I beg of you to beware of thinking of the Rosary as something of little importance – as do ignorant people and even several great but proud scholars. Far from being insignificant, the Rosary is a priceless treasure which is inspired by God.” He also tells us: “For never will anyone who says his Rosary every day become a formal heretic or be led astray by the devil.” St. Dominic prayed to Our Lady that she would force the devils who possessed a man to reveal the truth about devotion to her. The devils were forced by Our Lady to reveal: “Now that we are forced to speak we must also tell you this: Nobody who perseveres in saying the Rosary will be damned, because she obtains for her servants the grace of true contrition for their sins and by means of this they obtain God’s forgiveness and mercy.” St. Teresa of Avila tells us how priceless a treasure it is by showing the value and merits of a single HAIL MARY. Shortly after her death, she appeared to one of the Sisters of her Community and told her that she was willing to return to a life of suffering until the end of time to merit the degree of glory which God rewards one devoutly recited Hail Mary.

    I would recommend the sermons of St Vincent Ferrer (the great miracle worker). He talks of the Church being saved by St Francis *rebuild my Church”) and St Dominic. The Rosary and the Scapular, Today I do not think that a living vibrant Catholic country exists on this planet! The lack of miracles is the sign of the lack of Faith.

    “ONE DAY, THROUGH THE ROSARY AND THE SCAPULAR, SHE WILL SAVE THE WORLD.” – St. Dominic’s Prophecy of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Now to the Message of Fatima which Pius XII did everything within His Authority to promote the promised Triumph Of The Immaculate at Fatima.

    So my yardstick for measuring the Faith is obedience to the promise of Fatima. What I am seeing and hearing is worldly double speak (masonry)


  12. johnhenrycn says:

    I’m grateful to Pope Francis for the plenary indulgence he has declared for this Jubilee Year of Mercy, and I’m doing my best to take advantage of it for me and my loved ones. In not just a few other ways too, I admire and honour him. Still, you don’t have to be some sort of “uber-dox” Catholic, such as our late (figuratively speaking) Italian friend of blessed memory (whose name temporarily escapes me…one of the first exiles from Thompson’s Telegraph blog in 2010) to be concerned, if not worried, if not alarmed, if not frightened by more than a few of Pope Francis’s pronouncements and initiatives; and it’s unfair for some sincere Catholics to tar some other sincere Catholics as disloyal when they act in good faith as His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

    Whilst conceding that Robert John Bennett’s friend (above and passim ad nauseam) is a certifiable nutcase, we should not confuse dissent with treason.


  13. Robert says:

    God’s mercy starts with the fear of the Lord.

    Proverbs 1:7
    The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
    Luke 1:50
    And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him


  14. toadspittle says:

    “God’s mercy starts with the fear of the Lord.”
    It all depends on what we mean by “fear.”
    All manner of different things, I suppose.
    [The Moderator- Assume that we will take the innuendo as read, Toad]


  15. toadspittle says:

    I didn’t intend any innuendo. At least, I don’t think I did. Maybe I intended it unintentionally.

    Anyway, when we employ the word “fear,” in this context, we don’t mean “fearful,” fear, we mean “loving” fear – or “fearless,” fear. (Did I get that right?* I fear I may not have.)
    Because what reason could we possibly have for fearing He who entertains nothing but love for each and every one of us? And who will forgive us our trespasses, which none of us deserve.

    After all, what is there to fear from fear? Yes, I know – fear itself.

    *Almost certainly not, Toad.


  16. Robert says:

    When the Papacy is questioned I refer back to Fatima. Why? because of the third vision (can’t really call it a secret) of Fatima which has the death of the Papacy with priests, religious etc. etc..
    Fatima that Prophesied WW II (that warning seems to have been conveniently forgotten)
    Well its beautifully set in its proper context with the Confiteor
    Penance and contrition the necessary conditions for Mercy.
    Not wise to take Mercy out of its context because you end up promoting unrepentant Sin don’t you.
    The problem here is “I know my sheep etc. The sheep hear my voice” Well thats the problem we don’t hear His voice!
    I do not know what a “uber” Catholic is but I do know what re-branding means.


  17. Robert says:

    Fear means Love yes and Sin means Death spiritual Death. Sin is hatred the antithesis of Love. Original Sin required the Passion of Our Lord. God’s Mercy requires reparation for Sin! Thats the teaching of the Faith its also by the way why the Holy Sacrifice Of The Mass (perpetual sacrifice) is essential to obtain God’s mercy.


  18. kathleen says:

    Toad @ 9:19 yesterday

    Our Brother Burrito has always “played the game” in the sense of fair play! 😉 He only didn’t want our different ways of understanding this Papacy to be aired too publicly on CP&S. Sometimes even good friends who love each other have to agree to disagree.

    JH @ 00:59

    Is the DT “exile” you are talking about Mundabor perhaps?


  19. johnhenrycn says:

    Ha! Yes Mundabor (aka Mundabore, though not ever by me) – the very man! I see he’s still alive and kicking (the Pope). I wonder – is dear Mundy actually Robert John’s mysterious friend?


  20. toadspittle says:

    “(Burrissimo) only didn’t want our different ways of understanding this Papacy to be aired too publicly on CP&S. “
    Why not, Kathleen? Isn’t that what CP&S is all about?


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